Nervous of going back to normal life? How to deal with anxiety about lockdown lifting
2020 was a super rough year for everyone – and 2021 is only just starting to get better. Yesterday, on April 12th, lockdown finally started to lift. Gyms are back open, outdoor pub tables are being filled up with groups of six, and hairdressers, shops and more are opening their shutters.
For many of us, that’s great news! We can’t wait to spend time with friends and family, get back into a pre-COVID routine, and start the path to normal life again.
But we know that, actually, that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, there’ll be some of you who’ve been dreading the end of lockdown. It’s pretty understandable that while we’ve all been dealing with a global pandemic and lockdown, anxiety has been on the rise.
Getting back to normal after such a huge disruption to our way of living can be a bit scary. You might be wondering if you’ll actually be able to feel comfy in a crowd again – especially if this is the first time you’re experiencing signs of anxiety.
And if you suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (where you feel anxious mostly in social situations) or General Anxiety Disorder (where you feel anxious most of the time), it could be really overwhelming. Heading back into a somewhat crowded pub, switching your home for the office, or even just coping with thoughts of COVID-19 in everyday life isn’t just a simple task.
You’re not alone. We’ve pulled together a quick guide on how to help anxiety as lockdown lifts – check out our tips and techniques to get you out there with confidence.
1. Start small
Feeling nervous about groups, or your diary filling up? No need to jump back into things. You might have gotten a bit too comfortable in lockdown life, especially if you have social anxiety. Not having to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone over the past year can make the idea of doing it now much harder, and lead to anxiety attack symptoms.
Take it slowly: book in a meal with your mates or family members to get used to eating in public again. Go to the gym at a quiet time, late at night or early morning, where there aren’t a lot of people around. Say yes to an after work drink with a couple of colleagues.
Be kind to yourself and take it each day at a time. If you take on too much too soon, you might find yourself feeling even more stressed – so make sure you build up slowly.
2. Ease your mind by being prepared
We all still need to stay safe – but don’t let the fear keep you locked inside. If the risk of catching COVID-19 is making you feel anxious, staying ready with hand sanitiser and a good face mask might help to put your mind at ease.
Stock up on KN95 Respiratory Protective Mask 1s and a handy pocket-size antibacterial gel, like Carex Aloe Vera Hand Sanitiser Gel 300ml. We’ve got lots of options for next day delivery, so you'll never have to worry about running out.
Our pharmacist Giulia says, "If you’re prepared with an effective mask and good hand hygiene, you can reduce your risk and help to stop the spread of Coronavirus. You can even start taking a good daily Vitamin D supplement to help give your immune system a boost. BetterYou Dlux 1000 Vitamin D Oral Spray 15ml is really easy to use Vitamin D spray that you can take with you, so you won’t forget."
3. Remember to breathe
Feel your anxiety rising when you’re on the tube or in a crowd and thinking about the risk of COVID-19? Take a moment to check your breathing. Anxiety can make your breathing fast and shallow, which actually makes you feel more anxious (not very fair, is it).
Take a moment to calm your thoughts and your breathing. Sit down in a comfortable position, with a straight back, and relax your shoulders. Then, put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in slowly through your nose for four seconds (the hand on your stomach should rise, the one on your chest shouldn’t move much). Hold your breath for two seconds, then slowly let it out of your mouth for six seconds. Repeat until you feel more relaxed.
Giulia says, "Alongside breathing exercises for anxiety, you might find mindfulness can help. Try the Headspace app for guided meditation – you could even do it on the tube if you need to! A relaxing blend, like Bach Rescue Remedy Dropper, can help to calm your nerves too. Keep it on you for whenever you need it.
4. Ask for help
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to worry alone. If you’re really struggling to deal with anxiety symptoms, open up to someone you trust. It could be friends and family. Or, it might be your GP, the Anxiety UK helpline, or a Social Anxiety Forum.
Please don’t feel embarrassed to speak out. Your GP is there to help you, and can provide you with coping strategies and medication if you need it. Our expert pharmacist is always happy to help talk through any supplements and strategies you can try, too.
And be honest with your mates. You might find they feel the same way – so saying, "I’m finding things quite tough" could open up a lot of support you didn’t know existed.
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself
Interesting topics of convo? We’ve got nothing. For most of us, a year of working (or maybe not) hasn’t given us much to talk about.
If you’ve got social anxiety, you might normally rely on a few topics to carry you through, like a hobby you do or workplace stories – so this could be daunting. Even if you have high-functioning anxiety and usually cope quite well, this year might have thrown you a bit.
Take the pressure off yourself. No one’s expecting you to be the life and soul of the first meet-up, we promise. Try to relax: focus on the person you’re talking to rather than worrying what they think of you or trying to think of something exciting to say. It’s enough just to be there, taking the first steps. Good luck!